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Open Access Research article

Maintenance treatment of adolescent bipolar disorder: open study of the effectiveness and tolerability of quetiapine

Anne Duffy1*, Robert Milin2 and Paul Grof3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

2 Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

3 Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Psychiatry 2009, 9:4  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-9-4

Published: 6 February 2009



The purpose of the study was to determine the effectiveness and tolerability of quetiapine as a maintenance treatment preventing against relapse or recurrence of acute mood episodes in adolescent patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder.


Consenting patients meeting DSM-IV lifetime criteria for a bipolar disorder and clinically appropriate for maintenance treatment were enrolled in a 48-week open prospective study. After being acutely stabilized (CGI-S ≤ 3 for 4 consecutive weeks), patients were started or continued on quetiapine and other medications were weaned off over an 8-week period. Quetiapine monotherapy was continued for 40-weeks and other mood stabilizers or antidepressants were added if clinically indicated. A neurocognitive test battery assessing the most reliable findings in adult patients was administered at fixed time points throughout the study to patients and matched controls.


Of the 21 enrolled patients, 18 completed the 48-week study. Thirteen patients were able to be maintained without relapse or recurrence in good quality remission on quetiapine monotherapy, while 5 patients required additional medication to treat impairing residual depressive and/or anxiety symptoms. According to symptom ratings and global functioning scores, the quality of remission for all patients was very good.

Neurocognitive test performance over treatment was equivalent to that of a matched control group of never ill adolescents. Quetiapine was generally well tolerated with no serious adverse effects.


This study suggests that a proportion of adolescent patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be successfully maintained on quetiapine monotherapy. The good quality of clinical remission and preserved neurocognitive functioning underscores the importance of early diagnosis and effective stabilization.

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